Nissan Motor Co.’s new wagon-type cabs made their debut in Tokyo on Monday with the aim of giving a more comfortable ride to luggage-toting foreigners and aging Japanese alike.
“Many foreign tourists come with big suitcases and there are some complaints that they are not happy with small taxis in Japan,” said Asako Hoshino, a senior vice president in charge of domestic business at Yokohama-based Nissan.
“This model is very spacious. It can carry more luggage (in back) compared to sedans, and there is more room around the passenger seats,” she said at an event at Tokyo Tower to celebrate the new taxi’s launch.
Hoshino said there are about 700 of the new taxis operating in New York City, where they were launched in 2013. New Yorkers said they like them, prompting the automaker to bring them to Tokyo.
The cab is based on the NV200, a wagon that first rolled off the production line in 2009 and can carry five. There is also an electric version, the e-NV200, which was released last year.
In Europe, there are 200 of the EV models running as cabs, Nissan said.
The ones slated for the Tokyo area are gasoline-powered models, and Hoshino said cab operators in Kyoto are also interested.
Nissan said demand for wagon taxis is stronger because they are more convenient not only for travelers, but the elderly as well.
For instance, the wider entrance and a built-in access ramp make it much easier for senior citizens in wheelchairs to use compared with a standard taxi, which is usually a sedan that requires the person to leave the wheelchair, fold it up and stow it in the trunk.
Hoshino said Nissan aims to sell about 1,000 wagon-taxi units to fleet operators this coming year.